Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Richmond

Creative Pursuits Can 
Also Be Spiritual

Jul 01, 2015 06:51PM ● By Clair Norman

In a climate in which seekers are veering from the mandates of structured religious practice and claiming spiritual independence, the concept of creativity as a spiritual pursuit is gaining ground. Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who spoke in June during a special event sponsored by the Chrysalis Institute at the Collegiate School’s Hershey Center for the Arts, said, “The spiritually independent are wisdom-seekers and meaning-makers who cross religious, scientific and artistic boundaries.” He promotes spirituality as both fun and funny at times.

Chrysalis wants people to feel empowered and safe to claim creativity as a spiritual practice and is keeping the momentum going with its fall programming theme—Creativity: The Soul Speaks. Describing the theme, its website states, “The creative impulse is something deep within us that yearns to be heard. It connects us with others and with life itself. It is the language of the soul.”

To kick off its lineup of fall programs, Chrysalis will host Art as Language with a panel of creative arts professors at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) from 7 to 9 p.m. on September 10. Practicing art in its many forms can be peaceful and transformative as the creative process unfolds.

During the event, Lisa Freiman, director of VCU’s new Institute for Contemporary Art, will serve as moderator as the panel discusses how their various art forms enable them to speak in different ways. A group of musicians, visual artists, writers and dancers will demonstrate how their art communicates by performing an act of “translation” for the audience. Ed Coleman, an English teacher at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, will co-moderate.

Panelists include Darryl Harper, chair of the VCU Music Department, clarinetist and published composer; Arnold Kemp, associate professor and chair of the the VCU Department of Painting and Printmaking, whose works appear at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum, in Harlem, and the Berkeley Art Museum; Lea Marshall, associate chair of the VCU Department of Dance and Choreography and co-founder and executive director of GroundZero Dance, with an MFA in creative writing/poetry; and Elgie Gaynell Sherrod, chair of the VCU Department of Dance and Choreography and a Fulbright-Hayes scholar in dance research.

The goal of the panel discussion is to enable participants to understand the unique ways in which art can be an expressive tool and indeed, a spiritual one, and how different artists can creatively interpret the same theme or concept.

Cost: $10 for Chrysalis members, $20 for non-members. For more information, visit